7 things to know about new Bears president/CEO Kevin Warren – Chicago Bears Wire

The Chicago Bears have hired Kevin Warren as their new president and CEO, and he’ll be officially introduced next Tuesday.
Warren replaces Ted Phillips, who’s been with the Bears for 40 years, including 23 as the president/CEO. Warren will officially begin his work in the spring.
“I am honored and recognize the responsibility bestowed upon me to lead the Chicago Bears during this exciting and pivotal time for the franchise,” Warren said in a statement, via ChicagoBears.com. “I look forward to building on the rich tradition that started with George Halas and connecting with the unique and vibrant fanbase in Chicago.
“I join the Chicago Bears with gratitude and drive to carry out and build upon the legacy and spirit of this founding franchise and my predecessors. This is a franchise that is respected in all of professional sports, and I am humbled to be selected as the next President & CEO of the Chicago Bears. I sincerely thank Virginia McCaskey, George McCaskey, the McCaskey family, Ted Phillips and the search team, for the responsibility and trust placed in me to lead the Chicago Bears and deliver championships to Chicago.”
Here are seven things to know about the Bears’ new president and CEO:
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Warren comes to the Bears with a wealth of experience at the NFL level. He started with the St. Louis Rams, where he served as vice president of player programs & football legal counsel (1997-99) and vice president of football administration (2000). Warren spent three years with the Detroit Lions as their senior vice president of business operations & general counsel (2001-03). Warren spent 15 years with the Minnesota Vikings, where he served as executive vice president of legal affairs & chief administrative officer (2005-14) and chief operating officer (2015-19).
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According to the Bears’ release, Warren will oversee general manager Ryan Poles and the business operations of the club. Poles currently reports to chairman George McCaskey, which was a change that happened when Poles was hired last January. Before that, GMs had reported to president/CEO Ted Phillips.
“He is a proven leader who has many times stepped outside of his comfort zone to challenge status quo for unconventional growth and prosperity,” McCaskey said. “In this role, Warren will serve in the primary leadership position of the franchise to help bring the next Super Bowl championship trophy home to Bears fans.”
AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn
During his time as the Vikings’ chief operating officer, Warren played an important role in the “business, financial, legal and operational aspects related to U.S. Bank Stadium,” per ChicagoBears.com. That also included involvement in the design, construction, business, legal and operational aspects of the stadium, which opened in 2016.
According to ESPN, it was an “appealing” aspect for the organization during the hiring process. After all, the Bears are gearing up to make headway on the Arlington Heights property, which includes the construction of a new stadium.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
After his 21-year stint in the NFL, Warren made the transition to college football, when he was hired as the Big Ten Commissioner, becoming the first Black commissioner in any power five conference. While Warren is remembered for how he tried to stop football amid the COVID-19 pandemic (more on that below), he made some big moves for the conference over the last three years. That includes brokering the most lucrative media rights deal in college sports with CBS, NBC and FOX, along with streaming platform Peacock.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Speaking of the Big Ten, Warren already has a relationship with Bears quarterback Justin Fields, who played at Ohio State from 2019-20. Unfortunately, it didn’t get off on the best foot after Warren tried to shut down Big Ten football in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While other conferences gave schools and players the option, it looked like the Big Ten wouldn’t get the same option under Warren.
So Fields took it upon himself to help try and change things. He took to social media to collect signatures for a petition he started (#WeWantToPlay). Warren eventually conceded and the season went on.
But is there any animosity still between Fields and Warren? Not in the slightest. According to ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Warren has “a really good relationship” with Fields.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
The Bears have become more diverse in their franchise. With Warren’s hiring, they now have a Black president/CEO, general manager (Ryan Poles) and assistant GM (Ian Cunningham). Not to mention, the team’s franchise quarterback, Justin Fields, is also Black.
Given the Bears’ history of racism, they’ve come a long way when it comes to prioritizing and embracing diversity and inclusion.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
When Warren was 11 years old, he was hit by a car. The doctor told him his outlook for walking again was “not good.” He asked the doctor what he could do to give him the best chance to try and get back. The doctor told him swimming. So Warren paid for a pool in his backyard and used it religiously. Six years later, he took to the court as a member of the University of Pennsylvania basketball team. That experience has served as motivation for Warren throughout his life.
Listen to the story in his own words:
Kevin Warren was hit by a car as an 11-year-old, and the doctor said his outlook was not good.
Warren asked the doctor what would help him. The doctor's answer? Swim.
Warren paid for a pool in his backyard, practically lived in it, and uses the experience as motivation. pic.twitter.com/CACNY90J59
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) June 4, 2019

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